Minister for Agriculture Marine Charlie McConalogue has launched a new primary school programme designed to educate children on the environmental and economic advantages of our blanket bogs.
The programme, which was developed by the Heritage Council as part of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature, is being rolled out to schools in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Sligo and Leitrim from September following the successful completion of a pilot phase.
The project was launched during a visit to Crannog Bui NS Ardara last week.
The education programme aspect of the project takes children on a journey through the wonders of bog habitat, learning about how the bogs can control floods, provide clean drinking water and high-quality food, support biodiversity and help tackle climate change by storing millions of tonnes of carbon. As our future farmers, children are learning how to actively manage habitats through sustainable farm practices.
The learning begins in the classroom, where pupils learn about the key plants and bog habitat. A subsequent field trip to a local bog is organised where a bog plant identification swatch is used to observe whether the plants found are positive or negative indicators of the condition of a bog.
The final phase of the programme involves a follow-up project designed to consolidates the pupils’ learning.
Speaking at the launch of the programme at Crannóg Buí National School, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D said: “Since LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature commenced in 2021, my Department has been a proud partner with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and others in this worthy project, helping to deliver a pilot Results-Based agri-environmental Payment Scheme (RBPS) for 840 farmers. To date more than €3m has been paid directly to farmers under the scheme, and I want to acknowledge the excellent work that the farmers who manage these blanket bogs have done in improving the quality of the habitats under their care. Ireland is at the forefront in terms of results-based agri-environment schemes in Europe and is demonstrating how RBPS can deliver co-benefits for farmers and the environment.
“I also want to thank the staff and pupils at Crannóg Buí National School for welcoming us and for engaging in the excellent education programme I saw demonstrated so passionately today. I would strongly encourage other primary schools in the project areas to consider taking the programme when the new school term begins in September.”